When wines are made from late-harvest grapes, the harvests are purposefully postponed to concentrate the sugars and perfume of the grapes. The grapes dry naturally on the vine, a condition known in French as passerillé. Wines made from these grapes have a higher sugar and alcohol content and a more complex bouquet.
Characteristics and pairings of late-harvest wines
Visual: Depending on the varieties used and how ripe the grapes are, wines may be straw-yellow to golden in colour.
Olfactory: Fresh fruit, exotic fruit, apricot, peach, flowers, honey.
Taste: Slightly sweet or very sweet, but always with a heady fruit perfume.
Pairings: Traditionally served with desserts, especially fruit pies.
Examples: The vendanges tardives of Alsace and Québec; late harvests from Canada, Australia, South Africa and Chile; Spätlese and Auslese from Germany and Austria.
Did you know?
Wherever it is made, climatic conditions must be perfect to produce this type of wine, which explains the small quantities available and the steep prices they often fetch.